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Pe‘a voyages ahead with his newest album

Recorded amid pandemic, it pays tribute to people, places

THE MAUI NEWS - Kalani Pe‘a’s latest album “Kau Ka Pe‘a” features seven original Hawaiian language songs, two local favorites and covers of “When I Fall in Love” and Les Miserables’ “Bring Him Home.” Photos courtesy of Kalani Pe‘a

Compiled and recorded during the pandemic, “Kau Ka Pe’a,” pays homage to loved places and people, especially Hawaii’s monarchs.

A Grammy winner for his exceptional debut, “E Walea,” and “No ‘Ane’i” follow-up, Pe’a’s third album features seven original Hawaiian language songs, two local favorites and impressive covers of “When I Fall in Love” and Les Miserables’ “Bring Him Home,” all delivered in his inimitable, animated style.

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Kalani Pe‘a’s new album delivers depth, style

John Berger HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER - Kalani Pe‘a holds an important place in the history of Hawaiian music. In 2017 he became the first Hawaii-resident artist to receive a Grammy Award after the award for Hawaiian music was eliminated in 2011. Two years later he won the best regional roots category for a second time. Pe‘a’s third album lives up to the high expectations set by his first two. It displays the depth and breadth of his talent as a vocalist and songwriter in vivid style.

Pe‘a, who is Native Hawaiian, opens with “Kulaiwi,” a modern Hawaiian standard, and closes with “Bring Him Home,” the Broadway megahit from “Les Miserables.” In between those bookends are two other ­English-language remakes, five Hawaiian originals Pe‘a wrote or co-wrote and a newly-written gem by kumu hula Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett.

Amy Hanaiali‘i joins Pe‘a on a bilingual remake of “When I Fall in Love,” the pop standard that was first a hit for Doris Day in 1952. With newly written Hawaiian lyrics added the song becomes “When I Fall in Love (E Mau Ke Aloha E).” Hanaiali‘i and Pe‘a do a beautiful job conveying the emotional interplay within the lyrics.

Kalenaku De Lima, Ikaika Blackburn, the Pandanus Club (Kenneth Makuakane, Roddy Lopez and Alden Kai‘aokamalie) and Kimie Miner join in elsewhere.

Pe‘a honors the musical legacy of Loyal Garner with a straightforward arrangement of her musical signature, “Ha‘a Hula,” the song sometimes known as “Shall We Dance.” His originals pay homage to Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama, Kalakaua, Kamehameha the Great, the goddesses Poli‘ahu and Lilinoe, his parents and kupuna, and his husband and business partner, Allan B. Cool.

T. Ilihia Gionson’s annotation goes well beyond the basics required in any credible Hawaiian album. The basics — Hawaiian lyrics, English translations, composer and production credits — are all there, of course. The additional information deepens the listening experience.

For instance, the opening song, “Kulaiwi,” isn’t there only as a statement of modern cultural pride. It’s a song Pe‘a learned as a Hawaiian immersion school student. “Bring Him Home” isn’t there only to demonstrate the breadth of his musical horizons and his range as a vocalist. It is also the song he sang successfully in a college singing competition.

Gionson’s annotations reveal other things that would not be apparent even for listeners fluent in the Hawaiian language. Pe‘a shares more information about the theme and concept of the album with a liner-notes essay.

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